What Recruiters Look For on LinkedIn

When was the last time you polished up your LinkedIn profile?

It’s pretty common to only update your LinkedIn profile when you’re job searching, or starting a new position. Most people don’t think about it much—if you’re happily employed, why would it matter? Aside from the fact that employment circumstances can change at anytime, having an updated LinkedIn profile makes it easier for professionals to reach out to you about opportunities in your field.   

Instead of viewing your profile as something static to be updated during times of transition, it’s wise to think of it as a living document that reflects your professional experience.

Even if you’re happily employed, chances are, you’d be interested in having a brief conversation with a reputable recruiter about the right opportunity. So, unless you’re 100% sure that you will never leave your current job under any circumstances, it’s a smart practice to keep an active and up to date LinkedIn profile.

I recently sat down with our team of executive recruiters to talk about how they use LinkedIn, and what they look for in potential candidates for positions with our clients. Here are some of the things they look for:

A profile that is geared toward accomplishments, not just responsibilities. Our Senior Recruiter, Heidi Ram, said that she looks for candidates who “care enough about what they do to brag a little.” Instead of just listing your day to day tasks, think about what you’ve achieved in your roles, and highlight that.

A work history of progressive experience. Recruiters are looking for evidence that you’ve had increasing responsibilities and accomplishments in your career. What is the story that your job experience tells? When executive recruiters send your resume to their clients, they include a profile that tells your story and highlights your accomplishments. So a LinkedIn job history that shows a logical progression of accomplishments is a great way to get them interested.

Accuracy in your dates of employment, with little to no significant overlap or gaps in your work history. They are also on the lookout for signs of job-hopping—one or two short stays in roles can be explained, but if your whole work history is made up of 6 - 12 month jobs, or you’ve changed functions with each role (moving from sales to customer success and then over to marketing, for example) that will raise some red flags. I’ll add a caveat here: a specialized recruiting firm within a niche industry usually has a finger on the pulse of what’s happening, and will recognize companies that have been through recent upheaval. They won’t penalize you for getting downsized after an acquisition, or caught up in some well-known corporate politics.

A clear headshot. I know, we all say that we shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover—but at the end of the day, that’s just human nature. Use a headshot that is clear, well-lit, in focus, and smiling. A broody black and white photo or a shot raising a glass at a party might not get you completely disqualified from a search, but it will raise questions about your professionalism that you may then need to address.

Keywords are incredibly helpful, especially for technical professionals. Include the programming languages you’re fluent in, the tech stacks you’re a wizard with, and the methodologies you use regularly—and make it easy for recruiters to find you for relevant roles. Occasionally, clients will ask for credentials like a MBA or other advanced degree, so if you have one, make sure to include it!

Recruiters are looking to get a sense of your personality and tone, and for an overall sense of your professional story so far. Each client has a distinct company culture, and they are looking for signs that you’ll fit. What do you post about? Do you describe yourself in a lighthearted way, or is it all business? There are no right or wrong answers here—the overall flavour of your profile will be a result of the industries you work in, your experience, and your personality—so don’t try to fake it. Just be yourself.

Keeping your LinkedIn profile fresh and up to date is a great practice to adopt. At the end of each quarter, think about your accomplishments in your role and update your profile to reflect them. What do you want to be known for as a professional? Update your tagline and summary to communicate your expertise. Did you receive any professional certifications, or speak at any industry events? Don’t be shy about sharing them!

Recruiters look at hundreds of LinkedIn profiles and resumes each week, and LinkedIn is often the first place they go to find candidates for their clients. Even if you’re not actively looking for a new role, it’s smart to make it easy for recruiters to find you—your next opportunity might just land in your inbox as a result.

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